To assuage the pain of a friend, most of us at one time or another, have said something like, “you have every right to feel that way.” You’re supporting your friend’s moral or just claim, to feel or behave a certain way.
Pretty much daily, we hear some sort of hoopla about rights. And, it’s usually pretty self-centered hoopla. The most important rights are “my rights.” Juggling the rights of everybody is a circus act that we haven’t quite clowned out of since the Bill of them was enacted as Amendments to the U.S. Constitution in 1791.
The Declaration of Independence states in its preamble, that every American was equally created to proceed in life armed with some basic, inalienable human rights. No one has the right to deny another human being, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
As to life, we have laws against murder. No one has the right to murder another human being, no matter the reasons for doing so.
The difference between murder and killing is not just a matter of semantics. Bible study showed me years ago, that the commandment is literally, “thou shalt not murder.” A distinction is made for righteous killing, as in battle, war, or defense.
Hunting wild animals, such as deer, elk, small game, etc. is licensed in our state and most if not all others, to my knowledge. This is lawful killing, licensed by the states for the purposes of sport, culling of herds, etc. You and I may or may not like this kind of killing, but it is not murder and is not against the law if done according to the rules.
The second human right, codified into law in this union, is liberty. Liberty can be a tricky subject. It basically means, freedom. The tricky part is determining if one person’s freedom impinges on another individual’s freedom? Amendment IX in James Madison’s Bill of Rights alludes to this. This document specifically addresses individual rights which are to be protected from overwhelming government power. That’s when courts of law or its officers sometimes have to get involved. Then, oh my.
Schools in the state of Pennsylvania allow for vaccine exemptions based on parents’ religious (along with 43 other states and Washington DC) and philosophical beliefs (along with 14 other states). I wonder why mask mandates don’t fall into this part of the law. Some parents are adamant that such mandates impinge on their right to liberty, and unhappy campers that they are, they undoubtedly believe the mandates not only restrict their liberty but also deny their pursuit of happiness.
It has been argued that the COVID vaccine, or vax is a different animal than all the other childhood vaccines and preventive vaccines intended to protect seniors. Are you sure? Was polio a public health emergency? How about measles, mumps, diphtheria, flu, or chicken pox/shingles?
For decades, many folks have taken advantage of the exemption in the school law mentioned above, but those exemptions are being challenged in today’s vax arguments. This is not new. There have always been individuals who oppose cookie-cutter public health mandates.
Opponents as well as proponents of mask and vax mandates are exercising their right to choose. Being told by government mandate that we must do or not do something impinges on our liberty and arguably our pursuit of happiness as well. This is the very definition of a powerful government attempting to control individual rights which are protected under Amendment IX. So, it’s a battle of one set of rights against another set of rights. It is yet to be seen which army will win.
The third human right outlined in the Declaration, is not addressed legally in the Constitution. The pursuit of happiness.
Research has shown that happiness is most often attained through experiences, not the accumulation of stuff. That new expensive sofa may bring some temporary satisfaction that could be felt as happiness, but very soon it is just a place to sit your bottom when watching TV or conversing with a guest.
If the stuff you purchase, leads to an experience lived, such as a new car that takes you places that lead to memories, then you may just be a clam, living in “happy as…” Your vehicle may enable your experience of getting from one place to another a happy or an unhappy one.
It is my theory that most people weigh their choices according to a rudimentary scale known in business as a risk-benefit ratio. Does the cost of a new outfit sync up with the amount of pleasure wearing it has brought, and the experience lived while wearing it?
So, whether you believe in masks, vaccines, or you don’t, I believe we can agree that we are, in this nation, stuck in a pattern of polarity. In what is essentially a two-party political system, no one has come forward in recent years who appeals to either party’s central core, let alone the central core of both parties, or the middle ground in the nation.
I wonder if at the next go around, we might bring forward a candidate who would appeal to the broad spectrum of us in the middle as well as spilling over to the right and to the left. I think, for what it’s worth, that the vast majority of Americans are in that broad swath in the middle, given a moderate, intelligent leader.
We’ve been forced to settle for ideologues from either the far right or far left, keeping us embroiled in constant battle. I wonder, could this be the “reason for the season?”
Now, as to basic human rights, what’s with the rise in the cost of a baguette in France? Supply chain crisis and labor constraints be damned, folks have a right to be bummed when the best bread in the world is costing more than ever!